Cajun Country and Yellow
Rails - 2012
A Scouting Trip to SW Louisiana
October 24-30, 2012
I led a small group to
SW Louisiana to participate in the fourth annual Yellow Rails
and Rice Festival
in Jennings, LA. We had a blast at the festival and on the rest
of the trip.
Here are some photos from
We flew into Lafayette,
LA, and headed over to the Nature Conservancy's Cypress Swamp
Hmmm, cypress and swamp....
and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks,
Green Anoles, and
Massachusetts birders getting used to Louisiana.
We headed for Jennings,
our base for the trip. The next morning, we checked out the local
including this Loggerhead Shrike behind the motel
Andy and I were all over it.
The rest of that day was
devoted to the YRARF events, a morning lecture, and our visit
to the rice fields.
This autumn harvest of rice displaces wintering rails, sparrows,
and other birds as the combines cut the grain.
So the birds go squirting off in all directions while the birders,
whether on foot or riding the combine, try to
identify them. It was a hoot.
Wellies were useful, along with dusk masks and earplugs on the
or when downwind of the chaff plume!
Our group saw 5 Yellow
Rails (no photos, alas) and large numbers of Soras and Virginia
Rails and one American Bittern,
on the wing,
and afoot. Various other birds were around, including
Eurasian Collared Doves,
and skeins of Greater White-fronted Geese.
Whilst enjoying the best
jambalaya I've ever had at a backyard picnic, we saw
Eastern Meadowlarks and
Inca Doves. After the jambalaya, we checked out some flooded fields
in the dusk:
the ducks and ibises were in an uproar,
probably due to this bad
boy, cruising the pickins.
Part of the festival was
the Rice Gala, also fun,
especially the Cajun band with Gram on the spoons!
We traveled to Kisatche
NF with a large group of festivalites to visit the piney woods.
These long-leaf pine forests are the habitat of the endangered
I think the group was just too noisy and big to find these elusive
birds (it is much easier during nesting season).
Nevertheless, we saw some neat stuff, including
very cooperative Bachman's Sparrows,
American Beautyberry in fruit,
American Bird Grasshoppers,
a big crab spider,
a Six-lined Racerunner, and, of course,
We spent considerable
time at some of the National Wildlife Refuges, including Lacassine
Gulf Fritillary on Bur-Marigold,
Caspian and Gull-billed terns,
Golden Silk Orb-weaver,
Red-shouldered Hawk in the fog,
Tricolored Heron, and
We also visited Cameron
Prairie NWR and left wishing we could spend much more time there:
obligatory American Alligator,
White-faced and White ibises along with (probably) Boat-tailed
likely a hybrid grackle,
immature Purple Gallinule,
Killdeer and Wilson's Snipe,
Tricolored Heron, and
We also visited Sabine
Scoping the ducks (note the marsh fire),
two Savannah Sparrows (quite different in coloration),
White Ibis, Roseat Spoonbills, and both yellowlegs, and
immature White-crowned Sparrow.
We had a great time one
morning birding Fabacher Road in Sulphur, LA:
Cattle Egrets and cattle,
Sedge Wrens, and
Down along the Gulf coast,
we spent too little time at Peveto Woods:
Black-throated Green Warbler,
immature male Ruby-throated Hummingbird,
White-winged Dove, and
Other coastal birds included:
Clapper Rail near Cameron Jetty,
American White Pelicans in Cameron,
American Kestrel in Oak Grove,
Black-bellied Whistling Duck family in roadside ditch west of
Caspian and Royal terns,
Ruddy Turnstones, and
Gotta give a shout-out
to two fun eating spots:
Steamboat Bill's in Lake Charles, and
T-Boys in beautiful downtown Creole.
And here are a few more
Tropical Checkered Skipper
Purple Water Hyacinth,
Tersa Sphinx Moth.
Great trip! I think we'll
do it again next year.
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